The family inside the home escaped safely. Adam Gehler, the homeowner, said after hearing what sounded like a big explosion, he ran outside to see what happened. When he spotted the van and the fire, he grabbed two fire extinguishers and attempted to rescue the driver and extinguish the fire.
“I jumped in the back of the minivan and I went and tried to get him to the back to get him to lean his seat down and try to spray the fire, and I got the fire out for a minute, then it just lit up,” Gehler said. “And the cop grabbed me and told me to get out, and (he) pulled me out.”
Gehler said he and his family moved into the home in July and the van hit a room where his grandchildren were playing.
“The grandkids told me when it hit, it hit so hard it bumped them out of there,” said Gehler, who adopted his five grandchildren. “They have game chairs and it flipped them out of their game chairs.”
The cause of the crash has not yet been determined, according to McCroskey.
Gehler said both his vehicles are totaled and hopes he can repair his home. He set up a GoFundMe account at tinyurl.com/3me5u27y asking for help from the community. But he’s also asking for “prayers for the man I watched burn to death ... It was horrific and I am praying for him and his family, too.”